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Getting Pregnant After Depo Provera Shots

Updated on July 18, 2016
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Marissa is the writer of ThePracticalMommy and owner of Mommy Knows What's Best. She is a stay at home mom to four and was a teacher.

Depo Shot

The Depo Provera birth control injection is taken every three months, or twelve weeks, to prevent pregnancy.
The Depo Provera birth control injection is taken every three months, or twelve weeks, to prevent pregnancy. | Source

Depo Provera

Are you considering the Depo Provera injections as a form of birth control? Are you already on Depo Provera or have stopped it and wondering what it is doing to your body? Read on to find out more about this birth control and the long term effects it may have on your body.

What is the Depo Shot ?

If you were to conduct an online search on the birth control option Depo Provera, what would you find? People asking about side affects? How about the thousands of women searching for answers concerning pregnancy during or after getting the shot?

I am one of those women. I had only one Depo shot, and I was searching for answers I did not have after stopping the shot. Here I am going to share my research about the Depo shot and how it affects getting pregnant in the future.

Depo Provera, or DMPA, is a form of birth control given as an injection. It contains mexdroxyprogesterone acetate, a synthetic form of the naturally occurring hormone progesterone. It prevents pregnancy for up to three months by stopping ovulation, thickening the cervical mucus, and changing the lining of the uterus so a pregnancy can't happen. The failure rate for this kind of birth control is around 0.3%, meaning that only three in one thousand women may get pregnant while using it.

A woman seeking to take this form of birth control should take the first shot within five days after the beginning of a normal menstrual cycle. For women getting the shot after giving birth, it is recommended that they wait a few weeks before getting the shot. Because a normal menstrual cycle may not occur for a while after giving birth, a health care provider might give a pregnancy test to ensure there is no pregnancy before administering the shot.

This form of birth control is for those who wish not to get pregnant at all or who wish not to get pregnant for a long while after giving birth. The recommended use for this shot is no more than two years, unless no other form of birth control works or is acceptable, due to the fact that it may cause bones to weaken from calcium loss.

What is Progesterone ?

Progesterone is a naturally occurring hormone in the body that helps with ovulation and menstrual cycles. When a woman is about to ovulate, or release an egg from the ovaries, progesterone is secreted to help prepare the uterus to accept the egg if it is fertilized and pregnancy occurs. A pregnancy would help keep the progesterone levels in the body high to prevent further ovulation. If the egg is not fertilized, progesterone levels drop and a menstrual cycle begins.

The synthetic progesterone in Depo Provera works by keeping the progesterone levels in the body at a higher level, essentially making the body think it's pregnant and preventing further ovulation.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Depo Shot

Advantages
Disadvantages
99% effective
not effective against STDs
protection lasts for three months
loss of bone minerals, causing osteoperosis
less expensive than other birth control
quarterly doctors visits
no need to remember it, other than dr. visits
weight gain
chance of not having periods while on shot
effects last for a while even after last shot
may prevent uterine fibroids
many unpleasant side effects
If you are considering Depo Provera as a form of birth control, be aware of the advantages and disadvantages!

What is Depo Provera?

Depo Injection

Before you had the shot, did you read all there is out there about Depo Provera?

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Side Effects of Depo Shot

Depo Provera has many unpleasant side effects, a few of which are also found in other forms of birth control:

  • irregular bleeding, heavy bleeding, or no bleeding at all
  • weight gain
  • headaches
  • abdominal discomfort
  • hair growth or loss
  • nervousness
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • breast tenderness
  • acne
  • fluid retention or bloating

Weight gain is one of the side effects that bothers women the most. In fact, for every year a woman is on Depo Provera, she gains additional weight, nearly doubling the weight gain from the initial year.

A combination of some of these side effects--namely fatigue, lack of bleeding (amenorrhea), breast tenderness, and bloating--can make some women feel like they are pregnant. Many women search online, trying to see if others are experiencing the same thing, which many women are.

Serious side effects include anaphylactic reactions (severe allergic reactions) and ectopic pregnancy.

Periods on the Depo Shot

After the first Depo shot, many women will experience irregular or unpredictable bleeding as the body gets used to the synthetic hormone. For many women on the Depo shot, periods will be light and often disappear after the first few months on the shot (that is called amenorrhea , or the absence of a period). Other women may experience heavy bleeding, which may last only for the length of a period or may last for weeks on end.

Can You Get Pregnant After Only One Depo Shot?

Yes, you can get pregnant after only one Depo shot. It's just a matter of when you might get pregnant.

Some women, if they miss their second Depo shot, can get pregnant right away. For others, it can take months to conceive. For me personally, it took 18 months after only one Depo shot to conceive.

Can You Get Pregnant on the Depo Shot?

Even though the Depo Provera shot is meant to prevent pregnancy, there still is a chance you could become pregnant while on the shot. Here are some possibilities of how the Depo shot may fail:

  • the first shot was not given within the first 5 days of a normal period and you have had intercourse before the shot (meaning you were already pregnant at the time the shot was administered)
  • you had unprotected intercourse within the first month of the shot, before it was absolutely effective in your body
  • you did not get the next shot within 12 weeks

For reasons unknown, a few women each year get pregnant while on the shot, even after being on the shot for longer than the first three months and getting it at the recommended times.

Just remember: the only 100% birth control method is no intercourse at all. All other forms are 99% or lower. If you want to prevent pregnancy while on the shot, use a backup method like a condom or spermicide.

If you do become pregnant on the shot, stop taking the shot immediately and contact your health care provider. There is little or no increased risk of birth defects, yet in some countries it is reported that babies conceived while their mothers were on the shot may have a lower birth rate.

Stopping the Depo Shot

After experiencing the side effects of Depo Provera or wanting to become pregnant, many women choose to stop getting the shots. To do so, contact your health care provider and ask to cancel your next shot. You may be asked if you would like to consider any other birth control or if you need any more information.

When you stop taking the shot, it may take several weeks to several months to have a regular period again. You may once again experience irregular bleeding and abnormal periods until the hormone is out of your system. Most women may not experience ovulation for approximately 6-9 months after stopping the shot, while others may get pregnant soon after stopping the shot. If you want to stop the shot yet still don't want to become pregnant, it's best to use some other form of birth control.

How Long After the Depo Shot Can You Get Pregnant?

As mentioned above, regular periods may not return for several weeks to several months. On average, most women will not ovulate for approximately 6-9 months, and some sources say that time frame may even be 6-18 months.

Two things may affect how long it takes for you to get pregnant after stopping the shot: how long you took the shots and how consistent you were with taking them. Few women can get pregnant immediately after taking the shot. For many others, pregnancy doesn't occur for months or even years after stopping the shot. In my personal experience, it is taking longer than a year to conceive, as I have seen in some sources to be true for some women.

How to Get Pregnant After Depo Shot

If you would like to get pregnant after taking the Depo shot, here are some things you should do:

  • track your periods and make note when they become regular
  • track your ovulation once your periods become regular or take an ovulation test
  • have intercourse every other day from the time you stop your period until your next period, especially around ovulation
  • take prenatal vitamins to give your body what it needs to support a pregnancy

Above all, be patient. It may take a while to become pregnant after stopping the shot.

Depo Detox Diet

Some women, after stopping the Depo shot, turn to a detox diet to help their bodies get rid of the synthetic progesterone lingering in their bodies. The detox diet helps to flush the synthetic progesterone from the liver and may help with becoming pregnant.

Note: If you are considering one of these detox diets, first consult your doctor. Some of the herbs may not be suitable for you or may be dangerous for an underlying condition you may have. You also should wait a few weeks to allow your body to rid itself of the hormone and to heal.

A detox diet may include the following:

  • a lot of water
  • fresh fruits, vegetables and their juices
  • herbal teas
  • dandelion root
  • milk thistle
  • tumeric

Again, be sure to consult your doctor before going on any kind of detox diet.


Depo Provera Shots

As you can see, the Depo Provera shots are a long term birth control option that may not be for everyone. Make sure to make an informed decision if you are choosing this shot as your birth control.

┬ęThePracticalMommy

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      Marissa 4 weeks ago from United States

      Steph, I think it's time to get a second opinion. The least they could do is give an ultrasound to see why you are having pain on the left side.

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      Steph 4 weeks ago

      I started deapo when I was 13 cause of heavy period to the point of passing out. I stopped when I was 25 and went to the pill till i was 29 . No period on deapo when I went to pill they came back . I stopped everything at 29 and I'm wanting to have a baby but so far no luck. I didn't have a period for 5months after stopping . For the last five years I have had bad pain on my left lower side come and go . My period is back but it is sometimes late and now I'm almost a month late . I don't think being on depo for 12 years straight with no period was good. At five years on depo I asked if it was ok to be on it that long the doctor told me I was fine . Somehow now I'm not sure I'll even be able to get pregnant or even live a full life cause of all the law suit against it. I talk to Doctors about it but I feel like I'm get a run around left side pain and depo and no period and no way to have a baby????? I'm tried and stressed and have no clue why they can't be straightforward about what I feel is going on

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      Marissa 4 weeks ago from United States

      Ty, there's no way to tell. It varies.

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      Ty 5 weeks ago

      So how long do you think it will take

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      Marissa 5 weeks ago from United States

      Ty, if you're trying to get pregnant, it's recommended by most doctors that you take a prenatal vitamin. It's always possible to get pregnant, it's just that after being on Depo it might take a while.

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      Ty 5 weeks ago

      Hi I've been on deposit for 8yrs and I finally got off of it. My last shot was Oct of 2016 and I finally seen my cycle June 8 2017 is it possible that I can get pregnant. And is it safe to take vitamin to get pregnant

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      Marissa 5 weeks ago from United States

      Francina, what you're feeling could be the result of the shot. It made me feel like I was pregnant, but I wasn't. You can take a pregnancy test just to be sure.

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      Marissa 5 weeks ago from United States

      Sondrette, I believe at this point, since it has been about 6 years since your last shot, that the Depo is certainly out of your body. PCOS can be the cause of your current infertility, but it's not impossible to get pregnant when you have PCOS. I recommend speaking with your doctor and researching about the condition.

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      Sondrette Bulungol 6 weeks ago

      Iam pleased with the information but for my case I have a 7 year old child...which I gave birth in 2010...and I took 3 shots of Depo (not on exact dates) in mid 2010 and 2011 and I saw I was putting on weight so I stopped.I have very irregular periods and TTC is hard and now Iam diagnose with PCOS...WHAT IS WRONG HERE... am 30 I need at least 2 or 3 more children.

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      Marissa 2 months ago from United States

      Mariah, it's too soon to tell if you're pregnant. The symptoms you're experiencing could be from the shot still. If you want to test any way, you should wait at least 3 weeks.

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      Mariah Brook 2 months ago

      Hi. I'm 20 And I been on the depo since a little after I had my daughter in July of 2015 on and off with no periods it stopped completely. Now April 26 of this year was my depo date to get it I cancelled my appointment . I had unprotected sex April 27th to May 12 I been getting symptoms but I'm very unsure if I'm pregnant or not I haven't took a pregnancy test yet . Could I be pregnant or is it to early to detect it . Help Me Out Here

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      Debra 2 months ago

      I only had my Depo shot after giving birth and missed my next Depo shot about 14 days. so I had my second Depo shot on 10th of April.I had unprotected inter course the next day. my question is I can be pregnant.

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      Marissa 5 months ago from United States

      Hi, unfortunately you might still be experiencing side effects of the shot. It takes a while before your hormones are back to normal. I would trust the words of your doctor.

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      Marissa 5 months ago from United States

      Hi, just be aware that it could take a while, even though you only had one shot. Best wishes!

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      Marissa 6 months ago from United States

      Do you mean 8th day of your cycle? I believe my doctor recommended protected sex the whole first month to be sure the shot has a chance to work.

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      Marissa 2 years ago from United States

      Sarah, it may be time to talk to a doctor. Have you been testing for ovulation with a kit? If not, try that first, and then speak with your doctor. Best wishes!

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      Sarah 2 years ago

      Hi can someone help me i was one the depo injection for no more then 6 months i came off dec 2o13 my peroids came back April 2014 there been back every month 28 29 days between them still not ovulation is this normal i really want a baby

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      Marissa 2 years ago from United States

      anna, unfortunately, it is. It takes quite a while for periods to return for some people. I suggest a visit to your doctor. Best wishes!

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      anna 2 years ago

      Hi im 34 I came off the depo 12 months ago but haven't had a period at all yet is this normal

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      Marissa 2 years ago from United States

      precious, if you get the shot again in October on schedule, then you should be protected from pregnancy. It is completely normal to still get your period while on the shot. They may become abnormal or stop completely, but that is because of the hormones. If you are trying to get pregnant, then you should not get the next shot and wait about three normal cycles before trying to conceive. Best wishes!

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